What You Missed at the Market

Today was the first day with stone fruit in abundance. Koz Farms, Apakarian and Vince Iwo all had tables with an assortment of apricots, nectarines, peaches, and even some plums. Vince Iwo had these – the plums are the first I’ve seen. They’re the Red Nugget variety. I got a few, and found them to be pleasingly soft with a sweet reddish flesh. A good start to the plum season.

Fred of Savage Island Farms was back with Brooks cherries. I know this is my third cherry picture in as many weeks, but I can’t get enough of photographing them or eating them. They just look so bright and happy. My plan for the day when I woke up this morning was to buy too many apricots and cherries and make myself totally unwell on them. Mission accomplished, thanks to Fred here and Michelle at KMK. Fred will have his apricots along in a couple weeks.

The multi-colored carrots at Il Giardino Organico are sizing up nicely.

More about today, including Bistro Rustico’s Varouj Kachichian making a Chefs at the Market visit, behind the jump.

Pictured here is his phenomenal Spring Vegetable Risotto.

Bistro Rustico has been open about four months – they are located at 5789 Palm, at Palm and Bullard. Creative Fresno had their monthly Blender there earlier this month.

I had the pleasure of nibbling a piece of their eponymous Rustico bread as I watched Varouj Kachichian bring his risotto along. I had actually had a craving for a slightly sour bread earlier in the week, and had had nothing in the house to satisfy it with. The little slice was perfect for the craving – and it didn’t hurt at all that it was laced with sun-dried tomatoes, Kalamata olives and Gouda cheese.

I scanned through the menus they’d brought….looked to me like creative bistro Italian with a clear Armenian and Mediterranean influence and a broad palette of produce, which I suppose you could call the California influence.

One of the menus was for their three-course prix fixe dinner, available Tuesday through Thursday, 5-6:30 p.m. This I should do, I thought. Sadly, I usually eat at that time in the evening, and it feels so lonely to go to a restaurant then. Homemade potato gnocchi with eggplant, olives, capers, basil, aged ricotta and tomato sauce might change my mind. So might braised artichoke heart ravioli with a velvety white wine sauce and fennel oil.

Fennel oil alone might change my mind.

“What sort of broth are you using?” I asked Varoj.

“A vegetable broth.”

I smiled at him. “Oh, that’s great. I’m a vegetarian, and risotto on the menu can be one of those things that makes your heart leap and then sink.”

Varouj went for the Parmigiano-Reggiano, and several large handfuls made their way into the pot, followed by a pleasant volume of butter. A few final stirs, and the crowd started to gather as the first servings made their way onto plates.

It was very, very good. The carrots and squash were perfect, both tender while retaining their identities, and he’d left just the faintest hint of toothsome texture in the onion. Michelle from KMK came by just as I was finishing up my serving and got some for herself.

“This is my squash,” she beamed.

“It’s perfect, Michelle.” I said.

She took a bite. We agreed her vegetables had been well done by.

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